Although the road reopened in May 2009, its elevation is very low. As such, it is subject to periodic flooding from wind driven high tides or storm surge. This may occur at least several times a year, especially from storm surge or from astronomically high tides coupled with strong southerly winds that push water onto the road from either the sound side or the Gulf side of the island. Flood events will range from minor instances around the time of high tide—where visitors would be forced to drive through some shallow salt water to get to or from Ft. Pickens—to significant over-washes, where the volume of water, sand, and debris deposited on the road may cause impassable driving conditions for two-wheel-drive vehicles until the water recedes and park crews are able to inspect for road damage and clear the road.
We do our best to predict and communicate when flood events may occur in advance, however our predictions may be wrong from time to time. If we anticipate that a flood event may result in a significant over-wash of the road, we may evacuate the campground, cancel reservations, and close the Fort Pickens Unit altogether. This may be done on very short notice. Less severe flood events may cause temporary closures of the road to some or all vehicle types until the water recedes enough to be passable. In any event, an overnight visit to Fort Pickens calls upon you to experience the beauty—and the power—of nature, but it also means that at times there may be some risk of becoming temporarily stranded at Fort Pickens, especially when a storm event or an unusual weather pattern takes us by surprise. Santa Rosa Island is a special place where we get to witness the dramatic interaction of weather, the sea, and land, though doing so may at times be inconvenient, especially when plans become disrupted.
For more information on what the current road conditions are, or risk of flooding, contact a ranger at a visitor contact station or phone the Naval Live Oaks Visitor Center at (850) 934-2600.